Mediocre Culture Guide

Shawn Saylor
Shawn Saylor
Last updated 
This guide refers to "managers" and "management." As of Oct 29, 2021, those managers are
Shawn Saylor Shawn
and
Teagan Miller Teagan
. This line will be updated to reflect any changes in management.


Who are we?

Mediocre is an outfit of problem-solvers working together in central Kentucky.

We’re a group of socially and environmentally conscious creatives whose goal is to partner with clients to artfully tackle their financial, awareness, and growth goals. We prioritize autonomy in the workplace and making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work. Often visual, often atypical, always functional.

The company has existed as an umbrella for client work since 2008, and grew into a full-time agency by 2014.

What am I reading right now?

This handbook answers some of the questions you’ll have about working with us.
Speak up if it doesn’t answer your questions. It will change over time as we improve and grow, at the discretion of the company’s leadership.

We work hard but we strive to be a place where good people can do great work in a fun, open and laid-back environment. We’re successful if our team is successful - so we provide opportunities for everyone to improve, explore and enjoy their daily work.

Ask questions. You won’t look silly, you’ll look involved and connected.

You can submit feedback anonymously using our Suggestion Box, if you'd like.

Employment

We welcome everyone. We decide who to hire based on who has the skills and work ethic we need to make our business successful – and we hire without negative regard to race, color, national origin, gender identity and/or expression, age, veteran’s status, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other legally protected status. Here's the process we follow for job listings.

We don’t discriminate and we don’t allow our employees to discriminate. Period. If you believe you or someone else who works for us is being discriminated against, let us know immediately.

Here's a summary of job descriptions for different "tiers" of positions you may find in our company. We may not fill someone in all of these positions at any given time, and this isn't necessarily the best source for your specific job description, but it may help with understanding the work you and your peers do from day to day.

New Hires
We provide a performance review at 30 days and again at 90 days.

Reviews
We provide a review for each employee (with the opportunity to share ideas about both the employee and the company, a two-way street) annually from their hire date. Here's the process we follow.

We send a quarterly Engagement & Satisfaction survey via our Basecamp Headquarters Schedule. We encourage employees to be honest with answers: we want to hear ways to make your work-life better.

Outside Work
We know it’s common in our business to do freelance work and we’re okay with that as long as there is no conflict of interest. For instance, clients of Mediocre are off-limits for freelance opportunities unless it’s outside of our offerings and we approve it in advance.

When you’re on the clock for us, we expect you to be working for us. An occasional freelance email, brief phone call or lunch meeting is fine, but when we’re paying you, we expect you to be focused on our work.

Confidentiality
We work in a highly competitive field and have to respect the needs of our clients. If you’d like to talk about internal projects, sensitive client information or show in-process work to any outside the company, discuss it with a manager first.

Employment at Will
Kentucky has an “Employment at Will” doctrine. That means that you, or we, are free to end our employer/employee relationship at any time, with or without notice and for any reason that’s not against the law. This gives us both as much freedom and flexibility as possible.

Payment

Getting Paid
Salary increases are based on performance and given at the discretion of management. Salary increases are not guaranteed.

All employees are paid semi-monthly by direct deposit. The paychecks represent worked performed in the prior pay period. Pay periods are based on the days of the month: For example, in January our pay periods would be 1-15 and 16-31. In February, it would be 1-15 and 16-28. Direct deposit funds are generally available three days after the pay period ends.

We’re required by law to take deductions from your paycheck for things such as federal, state and local taxes and Social Security taxes. All deductions are reflected on your semi-monthly pay stub.

Financial Controls (Pay Ratio)
We’ve committed to maintaining a low ratio between our highest and lowest paid employees (including ownership). Example: Whole Foods has committed to capping pay for high-level executives at 19 times the wage of their average worker, or 19:1.

We've committed to staying under a 3:1 ratio. As of August 20, 2020, our rate is approximately 1.55:1.

Overtime
If you are paid hourly, you are paid overtime for any hours above 40 worked in a week. The overtime is paid at 1 ½ times your normal hourly rate. All overtime must be approved in advance. Meal times, vacation time and sick time do not count as “hours of work” for overtime purposes. Unless attendance is required, after hours social functions are also not counted toward overtime.

Reporting Time Worked
Federal laws require us to keep accurate records of your time worked – and we need accurate records for client billing purposes. All employees report time on an application called Harvest – our invoicing and time-tracking platform. You can access your time record through a web browser, or an app on your computer or phone. We'll provide training on Harvest, but you’ll find it’s very user-friendly.

Bonuses
While we used to provide $1,000 holiday bonuses, they quickly became expected (understandable) and seemed like another way to organize a salary. Now, we just account for this pay in employee’s salaries.

Scheduling

Our operating hours are generally 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, but your schedule can fluctuate based on the needs of the business and depending on your role on our team. Project deadlines are communicated with as much notice as possible so that you can plan accordingly. We’ll try to be as flexible as possible, but please understand that working at Mediocre means you'll need to be flexible with us as well.

Flexibility
We recognize that people don’t always do their best work on a 9-to-5 schedule, but we also have clients who observe regular business hours. With that in mind, you can expect to flex around project deadlines and client meetings. Employees who are local can expect to have some “in-office” hours and remote employees should expect to be available as needed for regular team meetings and client support.

In return, we’ll do our best to provide flexibility so that you can have the work/life balance you need to be happy, engaged and productive.

Breaks
All employees are entitled to a 15-minute paid break during each four-hour work period. You’re also entitled to a paid 30-minute lunch break. We expect you to take breaks — you’ll do better work, and more importantly feel better, if you do.

Benefits & Rights

Paid Holidays
Employees are paid for the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, the official company holiday is observed on the preceding Friday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the official company holiday is observed on the following Monday (unless otherwise designated by management).

Sick Leave & Medical Outings
Employees will have 24 hours per calendar year to use for illness or personal health business. These days need not be scheduled in advance.

Paid Time Off
Employees working 30-40 hours per week begin with 30 hours of paid vacation time per calendar year. After three months of employment, this number increases to 60 hours per year. After six months of employment, this number increases to 100 hours per year.

Part-time employees working 11-29 hours per week receive comparable paid vacation time, relative to the hours they work weekly. This will be discussed with management upon hire.

If new hires have a planned trip or need for additional time off, contact a manager.

This time does not include the aforementioned paid holidays, nor does it include the other categories listed in this section.

If at all possible, this time is scheduled two weeks in advance. We know this is not always possible, but please try. We’re a small team, and sudden scheduling changes can be costly.

Time To Vote
For local and national election days, we make sure employees have as much time as they need to make it to the polls. Let a manager know your needs and we'll accommodate them in your schedule. We'll block heavy lifting on projects or required meetings on election days.

We are members of the Time to Vote initiative, check out their site.

Jury Duty
If you are summoned for Jury Duty, we’ll provide unpaid time off. Please provide as much notice as possible so that we can cover your workload.

Bereavement
For the death of an immediate family member (spouse, parent, sibling, child or grandparents of the employee or the employee’s spouse), you may take up to three days off with pay. In situations that require additional time off, you can use PTO or vacation time (if available) or take unpaid time off with management approval.

Emergency Family Medical Leave (Coronavirus)
Employees are granted 12 weeks of leave if the employee or a family member is in coronavirus quarantine or if the school or child-care location of the employee’s child is closed due to the coronavirus. The first 2 weeks of this leave are paid. After these 2 weeks, leave time is paid for the duration of the employee’s remaining annual or sick leave, then we'll switch to unpaid.

Leave of Absence
If you need to be away for an extended time (more than two weeks) for any other reason, you can request an unpaid leave of absence, however we cannot guarantee that there will be a position available when you are ready to return.

Health & Life Insurance
We offer partially-paid health insurance for all employees working 20 or more hours per week, with optional dental and vision. We also offer complimentary life insurance for all employees. New employees are eligible for enrollment immediately upon hire, with coverage going into effect on the 1st of the month following hire date. For details, see Employee Insurance Benefits or chat with a manager.

Retirement Matching
We offer enrollment in a SIMPLE IRA retirement plan for all employees working 20 or more hours per week. Contributions may be made through salary deferral, and the company will match your contribution up to 3% of your salary. For details, see Employee Retirement Plan Matching or chat with a manager.

Parental Leave
We know that bonding time with a new baby or adopted child is important for you and your family. Employees are granted 12 weeks of leave for the birth of a child, to care for the newborn child, and for placement of an adopted or foster child. Leave time is paid for the duration of the employee’s remaining annual or sick leave, then will switch to unpaid.

Breastfeeding
We provide a positive and supportive atmosphere for breastfeeding employees. How you breastfeed is your choice, and we’ll give you the privacy you need. You can breastfeed or express milk any time during work hours. Breaks to do so need not be scheduled; we ask that you anticipate scheduling conflicts and share them with a manager. We’ll provide a private, sanitary room (not a toilet stall or restroom) for these purposes. You may also use communal areas after (a bit) of planning with a manager. Let us know what’s most comfortable for you. You can store expressed milk in the office fridge; we ask that you label it. Tell a manager what accommodations you need, and we’ll make sure you have them.

Bike Friendly Business Perks
As an official Bike Friendly Business, we offer a myriad of bike-related perks including reimbursed mileage, free annual tune-ups, and a yearly stipend for bike parts. See our write-up on our Bike-Friendly Business Benefits for details.

Team Lunches
When we’re working in the office consistently, the company will pay for group meals twice weekly (generally Mondays & Thursdays, subject to change). This may be paused during extended periods of working from home.

Company Trips & Outings
As often as possible, we facilitate opportunities for employee enrichment: trips to Creative South, other local conferences, and the like. Time, compensation, reimbursement details will be made explicit before the event in question.

Improving Skills
We offer employees paid time to put towards growing their skill sets. See our Time for Improving Skills Policy for details.

Philanthropy
We donate to organizations in line with our stated values. See our Philanthropy Policy for details.

Sustainability
We strive to be environmentally responsible and reduce our impact, including buying local. See our Sustainability Policy for details.

Volunteering & Community Service
See our Volunteering & Community Service Policy for details on the following:
  • Paid Volunteer Hours
  • Paid Equity Hours
  • Company Service Days
  • Pro Bono Projects
  • Monitoring Our Efforts

Do's & Don'ts

Absenteeism
We expect you to be dependable and punctual during scheduled work hours. Repeated absences or being repeatedly late for scheduled events will impact your success and lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Dress Code
Casual is fine, but dress in a way that’s not distracting to others in the office or inappropriate for client interaction. Personal hygiene is also important – sometimes we work long hours in close proximity – good grooming is appreciated.

Drugs & Alcohol
The use, sale or distribution of illegal drugs on company time or company property is prohibited. Using illegal drugs at work will lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Alcohol is not permitted in the workplace unless approved by management.

Smoking
No smoking in the office. Smoking is permitted outside in the designated smoking area on the back porch of the office. Please clean up cigarette butts, matches, etc.

Weapons
Weapons of any kind are not allowed on company property. This includes, but is not limited to guns, knives (other than a normal pocket knife) and tasers. 

Harassment
We foster a work environment where everyone can be comfortable and do their best work. We also won’t tolerate harassment (by another employee or by a client) based on race, color, national origin, gender identity and/or expression, age, veteran’s status, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Anything that makes you uncomfortable in our workplace should be brought to the attention of the leadership team. We'll make sure we investigate promptly and confidentially, and take appropriate action.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of employment; as a basis for employment decisions; or such conduct has the result of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating or offensive work environment.

Here are some examples of specific activities that violate this policy:
  • Visual displays of sexually suggestive or explicit materials, such as posters, catalogs, drawings, cartoons, magazines or photographs
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive gestures, comments, jokes, name-calling, etc
  • Sending or receiving sexually explicit email
  • Logging onto, viewing or downloading sexually suggestive or explicit material from online sources
  • Touching co-workers or other persons in a sexually suggestive or explicit manner
If there is a need to do client research or design that includes sexually suggestive material, please discuss this with a manager in advance. All employees are expected to comply with this policy and to advise a member of the management team if they have any concerns or see evidence of harassment in the workplace. Any allegations of harassment will be investigated promptly and thoroughly and employees are required to cooperate with any such investigation.

Misconduct
Here are some other examples of behavior that can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
  • Failure or refusal to carry out job assignments or to follow instructions as management requests
  • Inefficient or substandard performance of an assigned duty or responsibility
  • Inability to reliably meet project deadlines
  • Falsification of records, including employment, accounting, or financial records
  • Failure to properly record time worked or to make a timely report of hours worked
  • Theft or willful damage to Mediocre property or to the property of others; the removal of property without permission from management
  • Dishonesty in any form
  • Abusive or inappropriately-profane language
  • Unsafe behavior, for example, fighting or threatening another person
  • Carrying or concealing weapons, devices, or objects to be used as weapons
  • Violation of policies or of commonly accepted rules of responsible conduct

Whistleblower Policy
We won’t retaliate against a whistleblower (including bringing a matter of public concern before a public body or court) with termination, pay changes, poor assignments, or threats. We provide whistleblowers with confidentiality, barring investigation, legal compliance, investigative requirements, or legal defense for accused individuals.

If you have concerns about illegal or fraudulent activity, contact a manager. You’re not responsible for investigating the situation, determining fault, or considering corrective measures. If your allegation concerns a manager, report to a manager not involved with the claim.

Before reporting a matter of public concern to a public body (legal authorities, social media, or the press), please submit a written statement to a manager. Please exercise fair judgment and report in good faith; we trust our employees won’t intentionally share info they know to be false.

Limiting Corporate Travel
Our culture, workflow, and client relationships generally don't require much travel. When they do, we encourage travel efficiency, ride-sharing, and if virtual communication will do, avoiding large-scale travel. We not only consider the financial impact of traveling across the country, but also the ecological impact.

This doesn't mean travel is banned, or that we won't attend conferences. However, in order to limit unnecessary travel, all flights and large-scale travel must be approved by management.

Ethical Marketing Policies
We believe in transparency first, and our social media and website content is no different. We credit other people’s work (and welcome comments when we miss something), and we expect the same in return. We don’t share data from our team, clients, or consumers (website visitors, followers, etc) with third parties beyond the routine work we do on a daily basis (meaning if someone signs up for a newsletter on a website we built, their info goes to MailChimp, and not to a third-party marketing firm looking to sell something else).
  • If we endorse a company or product, we disclose reasons why on request, and we divulge all affiliations like paid promotions.
  • We expect our team members to be aware of their own personal biases at all times, and trust that those don’t impact company values publicly or privately.
  • We engage a collaborative approach with our clients. We don’t discriminate against any group or individual based on race, ethnicity, age, religion, education, ability status, gender identity, or sexuality—and if we realize we missed something, we’ll add it to this list. We also believe the things we make should work for as many people as possible: we push our clients to budget time for accessibility best practices.
We want an atmosphere of respect, honesty, and fairness. We're committed to solving problems, and we do that for whoever takes us on as partners. We're transparent about pricing, timeline, and deliverables to the best of our ability.

Technology

Social Media
We all use it. We don’t want to monitor it unless use is excessive and distracting you from completing your work. However, keep the confidentiality policy in mind. In-progress work will not be posted on social media. Don't refer to clients or your coworkers in any negative way. You can be critical of Mediocre as a brand, but do it with actionable improvement in mind: we ask that you don't post "I hate working here, they suck" and instead post "I wish our team did X, I think it'd be a great addition." Remember – nothing on social media is private.

Your personal social networking, whether at work or at home, is subject to all of the policies of this handbook, including, but not limited to:
  • Prohibited harassment, discrimination and offensive behavior
  • Use of company computer systems and equipment
  • Professionalism and confidentiality
Any correspondence you have using company equipment is the property of Mediocre. There is no expectation of privacy if you create it or send it on our platforms.

Company Assets & Files
Computers, email, printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines and all other office equipment are the property of Mediocre. Use them for company business. Personal use is also fine, but any work done on the company’s computer or through the company’s email system is the property of Mediocre and is subject to review at the discretion of management.

All files created or edited by employees or contractors are property of Mediocre unless expressly stated in a separate agreement and signed by both parties.

Inappropriate use of company assets is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Cell Phones
Personal calls and texts are fine as long as they are not excessive and do not interrupt your work or create a distraction or inconvenience for your co-workers.

Employment-Related Expenses
Any expenses incurred while doing work for the company, including mileage for company errands and any out-of-pocket expenses, are reimbursed as long as they were agreed upon before the expense was incurred. Just keep receipts or an accurate record of your mileage.

Agreed?

All employees need to sign the consent page below (in the comment thread). Send it to admin@mediocrecreative.com.